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Chicago’s Cycling Craze of 1896

By Monica Buck

“Get a bicycle,” Mark Twain wrote in 1884. “You will not regret it, if you live.” The famous author might not have enjoyed his time on two wheels, but his readers did. In fact, the whole of America did. The end of the 19th century marked the first cycling craze in the USA. The mass demand for ‘noiseless steeds’ sped up and standardized production and led to new inventions, such as pneumatic tyre. And all that progress laid the foundations needed for future development of another novelty. The automobile.